★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Swan songs for actors & actresses are always a bittersweet thing: bitter because it's their last appearance, & sweet because they always go out with a bang.
The Old Man & the Gun is a light-hearted & lovely film that is a great swan song for Robert Redford. Based on the 2003 article The Old Man & the Gun by David Grann, & set in 1981, the film follows Forrest Tucker (played by Robert Redford), a career bank robber. Now in his 60s, Tucker shows no signs of slowing down his bank robbing (nor his prison escaping, as he has escaped 18 times, including escapes from Alcatraz & San Quentin), which is marked by one noticeable aspect: Tucker is, surprisingly, very nice about bank robbing, as he is always very polite & calm in his bank robbing. His crew, dubbed the "Over the Hill Gang," includes Teddy (played by Danny Glover) & Waller (played by Tom Waits), who are as old as Tucker.
One day, while driving away after robbing a bank, Tucker stops & notices someone struggling to get their truck started back up. That person is Jewel (played by Sissy Spacek). As he tries (unsuccessfully) to get her truck started, they strike up a camaraderie. They go out to a diner, where Tucker explains to Jewel what he does for a living. She is somewhat bemused by this.
As the Over the Hill Gang continues their non-violent, low-key robberies, they are being pursued by one man: Det. John Hunt (played by Casey Affleck). While determined to catch Tucker & his crew (as his wife Maureen (played by Tika Sumpter) is as well), Hunt is also very bemused by Tucker's way of going about.
The Over the Hill Gang keeps on robbing banks in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, & other places. But as the cat-&-mouse chase gets closer, the more saddened both Tucker & Hunt feel that the chase will end.
The cast is phenomenal. Robert Redford, even at the ripe old age of 82, still has that charm & charisma that has been with him since he first came upon the silver screen. Casey Affleck also does a terrific job. Sissy Spacek gives her best performance since In the Bedroom. And the rest of the cast also gives great performances.
David Lowery's direction is excellent. Lowery's direction is very quiet & subdued, emphasizing substance over style. And for a film like this, it works.
David Lowery's screenplay is amazing. The plot is quietly ravishing, the characters are very interesting, & the narrative is genuine & warm-hearted.
And Daniel Hart's score is fantastic. The score is light & bouncy, led by a piano & drums, & adds to the light & calm feeling that the film exudes.
This is one of the best films of the year. It's light-hearted, fun, & ultimately, a great curtain call for one of the biggest film legends.
The Old Man & the Gun was seen by me at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI on Saturday, October 13, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 93 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.